Universal III carriage conversion

Chris Manson, proprietor of Crooked Crow Press, in Rockville, Maryland has converted his Universal III Power Vandercook to a hand-cranked press. He had a retired machinist make a collar extension to fit onto the bearing stub on the impression cylinder (photo 3). Onto this new bearing stub Chris attached a crank from a large Poco press. Note the notch that had to be cut out of the handle arm (photo 5). Currently, a set screw is the only means of holding the position of the crank collar on the new bearing stub. Chris still needs to have a hole drilled through the assembly to fit a taper pin.

c-manson.jpg cm-u3-handle.jpg cm-u3-stub-top.jpg cm-u3-stub-handle.jpg cm-u3-handle-notch.jpg cm-u3-backside.jpg

Chris kept the circuitry intact but removed the carriage motor, which was attached on the carriage. He also removed the form rollers, preferring to ink his forms manually with a roller as is done on an iron handpress.

With this project, and the 232 at Wesleyan, hand-cranked conversion seems to be an idea whose time has come. Fritz Klinke has asked me to assist him in developing a conversion kit to that could be used on most power carriage models including the 219. Together we will study the original Vandercook engineering drawings during my visit to NA Graphics in February.

Chris was fortunate to have found a crank long enough for his press. Additionally to matching length to cylinder and bed size a new handle arm would need to have an outward bend like those on standard equipped hand-cranked Vandercooks.

Universal III carriage conversion
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One thought on “Universal III carriage conversion

  • February 2, 2008 at 11:17 pm
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    Hello Paul,
    Perry Tymeson put me in touch with Chris on this a while back and he gave me a bunch of nice photos. What he has done here gave me the inspiration to work out a simple solution for the Uni III I am presently converting.
    Unlike the conversion Chris has done here, mine will completely eliminate the control box and control panel and replace the panel with a block off plate with only the stock running light and on/off switch and maybe a Vandercook world logo for good measure. I am also using a Vandercook dogleg crank handle that passes through the side cover as on the standard hand cranked Uni III and clears the roller trip lever without modification.
    Since these power driven Uni IIIs are aging and the replacement automation components are so expensive I feel that as time goes on there is bound to be an increasing demand for such a conversion. I have no intention of marketing the one I am working on, but am at least making sure that the parts are essentially bolt-on and made using CNC technology for ease of duplication. After all, I am aware of eight of these power Uni IIIs just in my local circle of contacts. And as some of them retire from production the availability of a conversion to hand crank may be just what is needed to save them from the scrap man.

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

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